pros & cons of selling a home without an agent

Since we sold our home in Kentucky last July I’ve fielded quite a few questions regarding selling a home without a listing agent. Obviously every situation is unique as is every real estate market, but I thought I’d share a few of the pros and cons from my personal experience. Whether you’re in the market to sell soon or not I hope you’ll find some information here to be helpful.
Pros and Cons of Selling Your Home Without an Agent
This was our second house of the 6 we’ve called home that we sold without using an agent. In this specific situation we didn’t have to move but we wanted to; so selling quickly or even selling at all wasn’t something that needed to happen. In other words we didn’t have to move for a job or for school district concerns…..we hadn’t grown out of our home……..we loved our house very much…….it just wasn’t in Charleston, SC where we’ve always dreamed of living. So we went for it, we listed our home just to see what would happen and as it turned out in just three weeks from listing day we had a signed sales contract.
We used a flat fee listing agent which cost $300 and enabled us to list our home for sale on the MLS – multiple listing service – (a database used by real estate agents). Because we had done this before we were pretty familiar with all the forms and disclosures we needed to fill out, but the flat fee listing service we used actually walked us through all the paperwork. In addition to prepping our home to get it ready to sell, we did a bunch of overall market research to arrive at a listing price and to see how our home compared to others in the same price range. While we chose not to use an agent to list our home for sale, we made sure to include that we would pay the buyer’s agent in the listing.
We chose not to host any open houses at all. I personally think open houses are a giant waste of time and even if we had hired an agent I would have requested that they not schedule any. Call me crazy but I feel like they attract more Curious Georges than actual buyers. But maybe I feel that way because I myself have been known to spend a random Sunday after church going through open houses just for the fun of it. It’s way more fun when you’re not the homeowner who has opened up your home in hopes that someone will want to make it their own. 😉
PROS to selling without a listing agent?
– One is the most obvious – The cost-benefit of selling without an agent is kind of hard to beat. Instead of paying 6% on the sale of our home; we paid 3% since we only paid the buyer’s agent. The 3% we saved by not paying a listing agent helped to pay for our out of state move (which isn’t cheap let me tell you!).
– Second – We were in the driver’s seat the whole time. Waiting on feedback kills me. And when you’re working with a listing agent, chances are you’re not their only client. Being in the driver’s seat meant that we didn’t have to wait too long for information or feedback before or after showings. When a buyer’s agent would call to schedule a showing I would ask a few questions about the buyer to see how serious they were and if they were planning to buy with a contingency to sell a home of their own. Not all listing agents will share those kinds of details about all of the potential buyers that come through your home, but I like knowing all of the details. In addition after each showing I personally made follow up calls to see how everything went during the showing and to clarify any questions they might have had. All in all I liked being in control of the marketing strategy and not dealing with an intermediary.
– Third – You don’t have to spend any time interviewing agents. Interviewing realtors can be super tiresome. And even if you feel confident in hiring one it doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be happy with the service he/she provides. We had a bad experience with the realtor who sold our second home. She had a lot of listings at the time….and our little ol’ second house wasn’t exactly a priority.
– Selling your home on your own is a lot of work! And the truth is getting a signed contract is just the beginning….and it takes a lot of effort to just get it to that point. You’re prepping your home, than researching and pulling comparisons to arrive at a sales price, writing up the listing, filling out all the paperwork, taking photographs, creating a marketing flyer, scheduling showings, maintaining a clean house (with kids and dogs!), and then hallelujah you get an offer…..but is it an offer you’ll accept? Is there a contingency? Are they open to negotiate? Then you arrive at a mutually accepted agreement…..and then there are appraisals and inspections, meanwhile you’re packing because hello! you’re moving!……….and then there are often more negotiations and possibly a repair list, and again this all happening while you’re simultaneously packing, dealing with moving companies (oh hello nightmare) and trying to buy a house because now you need a place to live………..and goodness gracious by the time you get to closing day you feel like you need at least two bottles of champagne to properly celebrate that it’s all finally over and done………Or at least that has been our experience both times we’ve sold without an agent. So while saving that 3% is great, if you’re not up to dealing with all of that than get an agent who will work hard for your benefit. Because if you let the ball drop during negotiations you could completely negate that 3% savings.
– Some buyer’s agents will try to take advantage of the fact that you have no representation, so you really need to be well informed.
– Pricing your home right is so key, and a good agent will be able to do that really well. I think it’s hard as a homeowner, especially one who has poured a lot of love and hard work into updating a home, to detach yourself from all of that and just look at the numbers. You really have to take a step back and be totally objective. That can be really tough to do though. Having a listing agent walk and talk you through all of that will probably make it a whole lot easier.
All in all, I’m not sure I’d do it again…….but the control freak, numbers cruncher in me would probably jump in again if the time came and the market was right. 😉 It’s a lot easier to sell by owner when you’re in a desirable area and inventory is low. When those tables are turned a good agent is worth their weight in gold. It’s a great deal of work and I have a lot of respect for real estate agents who negotiate these stressful situations every day. Whether you choose to work with a listing agent or not I really believe that the most important thing you can do besides pricing your home right is to add good high quality photographs to your listing. Real estate has become such an internet game and good photos help to generate more interested buyers and showings.
What are your thoughts? Have you ever sold a home without a listing agent and lived to tell about it? 😉 Any real estate agents out there I’d love to hear your thoughts as well!

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